Another night, and another close game, what else is new. Jon Lester turned in his best start of 2015, his only issue was Billy Hamilton who reached base twice, stole three bases, and scored twice. Other than that, Lester was brilliant as he struck out ten in his six innings of work. The Cubs were paced offensively by an Anthony Rizzo two run dinger, and a huge game tying solo shot by Chris Coghlan in the seventh. After watching Jason Motte get out of bases loaded trouble in the bottom of the tenth, Jonathan Herrera came up with a big hit in the eleventh. Herrera lined a base hit to right which scored Rizzo, got Bryant to third, and Herrera took second on the throw. Both of those guys scored on a bases loaded David Ross double which put this one out of reach.
Rizzo’s two run blast.
Addison Russell with a web gem.
After having eight of their first eleven games at home the time has come for the Cubs to hit the road, and face some stiff NL Central competition. Tonight’s game in Pittsburgh starts a seven game road trip that will see the Cubs battle the Pirates for four, then head to Cincinnati for three. The Pirates are playing solid baseball right now as they have won three straight games, and sit a half game behind the Cubs for second place in the Central. The Cubs are coming off a tough series loss to the Padres, their first of the season. All three games could have went the Cubs way, but a burnt out bullpen, short starts, and lack of clutch hitting came back to bite them.
- Monday, April 20, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN Chicago Plus (Channel Finder)
- Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – WGN 9 Chicago
- Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN
- Thursday, April 23, 2015 – 11:35 AM CST – CSN, MLB Network
Who is Hot:
- Pirates: After a slow start, and a big new contract, Josh Harrison is starting to heat up at the plate. He is hitting .292 (7-for-24) over his last seven with a double, homer, and two RBI’s.
- Cubs: Anthony Rizzo was getting on base earlier in the year but wasn’t seeing too many hits dropping, that is changing. Rizzo is hitting .318 (7-for-22) over his last six games with a home run, three RBI’s, a double, and SIX walks.
Who is Not:
- Pirates: After a productive 2014, Jordy Mercer has come out of the gate struggling. Mercer is hitting just .118 (2-for-17) over his last seven games with only one walk, two strikeouts, and no runs scored.
- Cubs: Second base is an issue for the Cubs right now, as both Jonathan Herrera, and Arismendy Alcantara are scuffling. Herrera is hitting just .158 (3-for-19) over his last six games, while Alcantara comes in at a .143 (2-for-14) clip, with six strikeouts.
The Cubs have been busy so far today, mostly off the field. The club has announced that Brian Schlitter, Junior Lake, and Zac Rosscup have all been optioned to Iowa. The news was expected for the most part as all three guys have options left, but there was an outside chance that Lake would make the team. What this does mean is that Matt Szczur is all but a lock for the opening night roster, as Cubs beat writers pointed out on twitter, it’s down to three guys for two spots (Szczur, Sweeney, and Herrera). I think Szczur and Jonathan Herrera have the edge right now, Szczur can play all over the outfield with a tremendous glove, and Hererra would be only the second guy off the bench that can play the infield. This leaves Sweeney as the odd man out, the only thing that he really brings to the table is the left handed bat, but I don’t think that is enough to keep him around. The Cubs also made it clear today that they will be starting the season with three catchers, so Miguel Montero, David Ross, and Welington Castillo will all be in Chicago.
The bullpen is also starting to come together, but the question of what do with Edwin Jackson remains. Jackson will not be a member of the five man staff, and will not act in some sort of piggyback role with Travis Wood, so what to do? The Cubs have already made a huge financial commitment to Jackson so cutting him doesn’t seem to be an option, but the Cubs could admit the mistake and move on. If I had to guess, I think that Drake Britton will be waived, and the bullpen will have Jackson as a long guy which means the Cubs will carry only one left-handed arm in the pen, Phil Coke. Still a lot to figure out as we are now only four days from the start of the season.
Full Box Score
Jason Hammel cemented his status as the Cubs number three starter this afternoon by baffling the defending AL Champ Royals in a 4-3 win. Hammel was brilliant going four scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out three, the outing lowered his spring ERA to six, it’s been rough. Phil Coke, Zac Rosscup, and Stephen Perakslis all had scoreless outings with Perakslis nailed down the save. Anthony Rizzo who has struggled in finding his timing this spring had a solid game, he went 2-for-2 with an RBI, his second of the spring. Junior Lake, Starlin Castro, and Jonathan Herrera all chipped in with one RBI each in the win.